Love is real, real is love…

I’ve always loved Valentine’s Day. I like Cary Grant movies & bittersweet love songs & Jane Austen novels. My heart forever swells for romance. It’s just that as I’ve gotten older my idea of true romance has changed.

I remember watching interviews of John Lennon talking about how he never wanted to be apart from Yoko & thinking I wanted to be in love like that. I thought the idea of wanting to spend every moment with someone was beautiful. Now it strikes me as frankly, unhealthy. The first time I saw Renee Zellweger translate ‘you complete me’ & moon over the signing couple, I melted. These days it’s more like boaking. It’s actually a bit weird that I ever internalised that version of love. I’ve never been someone who wanted to be around others all the time. My own company has always been valuable. My ‘hobbies’ are fairly solitary; reading, writing, swimming. I’m not really a joiner. I have lived alone for most of my adult life. When everyone else was still living with their parents or a bundle of flat mates I had already figured out that I quite liked closing my front door & knowing I am alone. I believe a part of me still thought when the right person come along that would change. Their breath would make my air sweeter, their presence would be essential. For a while there I actually thought that a soulmate might just make me whole. Now I look at the sentence & cringe. The right person is amazing, but a great love adds to one’s life. It’s an extra. My mug is full of me, a relationship is just the delicious cream & mallows on top. I can’t reach the peak potential of me if I spend every second of my life with someone else. By default I’d never put own needs first. I know now that love is not all encompassing; it’s vital to leave a little room for me.

In days gone by used to take note of dates. Anniversaries and so on. I knew the day I met exes, first kisses & I love yous. It mattered to me that we mark those days with flowers or dinner or whatever. I loved rom com’s & the big dreamy gestures. I thought I hankered for that kind of romance. I planned aspects of my theoretical future wedding. Thinking that the perfect music & public declarations would make it more concrete. Turns out none of it really matters. There isn’t a bouquet big enough to make you forget that someone didn’t come home for three nights. No public display of affection makes up for a routine lack of consideration. If a relationship doesn’t have a daily beating heart, the Hollywood bits won’t keep it alive. Which is not to say that some folk can’t have both. I know happy people who’s loving partners do big time classic romance & that’s fantastic. It just doesn’t seem that important to me anymore. The Toyboy & I don’t have an anniversary. Neither of us thought to take note of our first date & when it comes down to it, we don’t really care. We do all the things you might do in anniversary whenever we feel like it. What does it matter? Maybe we’ll get married someday & maybe we won’t. I’m not bothered as long as I’m happy. The gown & first dance & piece of paper won’t actually change what happens between him & I. On reflection the romantic cinematic moments that have really stuck with me aren’t the flashy ones anyway. They’re were quiet, intimate interactions. Like when Bill Murray whispers ‘ I’m not worried about you’ to a sleeping Scarlett Johansen in Lost in Translation. That sets off my butterflies. Likewise in my life, it’s the everyday romance that sets my heart a flutter. Rubbing tiger balm on my sore bits or drinking fizz in the bath with me. Co opting each other’s turn of phrase & bringing me vegan treats. Wrapping a gift creatively to please me. Knowing my sushi order & that I always want Diet Coke. Carrying my bag. Sitting by my hospital bed. Saying what you mean. And a million other real life indications that I matter, that I’m known, are what I need.

So, yes I love romance & I love that St Valentine’s Day reminds us to cherish & treat our one & only. I just don’t think it has to be wrapped up in hearts & shouted. The wee moments count. To get back to Lennon, it turns out love is real & real is love.

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Friday favourites…

Wow, it has been a big week. I’ve felt all the feelings & did all the things. I will catch you up on my goings on soonish. In the meantime please content yourself with a variety of my current favourite things. You know the deal, all the wee bits that get me through the good & bad days.

First up is appropriately named First Aid Kit . I am rather in love with their new album Ruins . It has just enough melancholy to nurture my ‘ i just need a small cry’ moments whilst also containing sufficient uplifting ditties. It’s folksy & soothing, but also pleasantly raw in places. It is an added bonus that the band wear the most divine clothes. Their hard hippie aesthetic wets my whistle. In short, three cheers for the Swedish sisters charming my senses.

First aid kit, ruins Album cover

Next is a yummy little treat that pleases my tum. Yes, I take comfort in food, sue me. I have always been a lover of jelly, but obviously not all jelly is vegan friendly & some vegan brands lacked a satisfactory wobble. I am chick who likes some wibble. This winter my cupboards have been packed with Hartley’s 10 cal jelly pots. I first discovered these years ago during an insane starvation diet, but they are utterly delicious. These days I couldn’t care less about the calorie count, but do love their variety of fruity flavours. Everything from classic strawberry & orange to elderflower lemonade and Black Forest gateau. Every single variety is packed full of fruity flavour and not a single non vegan ingredient. They are also exceptionally easy going on the stomach meaning I have something tasty to eat even when mine is at it’s most uncooperative. Yeah!

Vegan jelly

No fav list of mine would be complete without some reading material. My current book just happens to be one of my all time favourite writers, Alan Bennett. I absolutely adore everything he does, but in particular I love his diaries & memoirs. I find his writing as comforting as a cup of mint tea. Even when he tackles heavy subjects he does so with such a light hand that it soothes me to read his words. I love that I can trust his politics, his wit & his decency. He writes about complex, sensitive issues with an honesty & compassion missing from so much of modern life. His most recent collection of prose, Keeping on Keeping on is as enchanting as ever. His daily doings & opinions on the world at large have been getting me through a tricky start to the year. If you need your faith in humanity (& beautiful writing) restored, Bennett is the man for the job.

Cat poking his head over a book

Bronan doesn’t enjoy Alan Bennett as much as I do. He’s a less reading, more ear rubbing kind of cat.

Another small item bringing joy to my life this week is badges. I am a longtime fan of the humble pin badge & am rejoicing in their revival. Not so long ago I had to search for badges that pleased me. Now pins with messages that delight are everywhere I look. There’s nothing better than wearing your heart (& your politics) on your sleeve or in my case chest. I have taken to expressing my mood with a collection of badges each day. They are a darling embellishment to every outfit. Plus, no one can say they haven’t been warned; they tell you what to expect before I even open my mouth.

Feminist badges

Last but not least is Now Tv. I had a Sky package of one kind or another for years, but constantly had problems with it. My broadband dropped, I lost signal for no reason and it always took 3 weeks to get through to customer services. So, I ditched it and got Now instead. It’s so much simpler and cheaper. Oh & now my internet consistently works. I am useless with services like this & tend to put up with problems forever because I worry changing will be just too much hassle. This switch was so easy that I am now checking out what else I could benefit from changing. Suppliers beware.

Another cruelty free quickie…

Another Friday night, another beauty quickie. This week I’m raving about nail polish. Primark nail polish to be exact.

I am a nail polish addict. I am constantly buying pretty new shades. Which can get pricey. So, I was delighted to discover that Primark cosmetics are completely cruelty free. Their polish range is extensive, gloss, matte, glitter, metallics & my favourite satin matte. They have every colour in every shade & prices range from 90p to £1.50 a bottle.

Satin Matte for when you can’t decide between high gloss & classy matte.

You’ll be wondering how good a 90p nail varnish can be. Well, I’ll tell you; they’re brilliant. I have already tried quite a few & every single variety has been fantastic. Two coats gives deep, even cover that lasts at least a week. All that without harming a single hair on any creature’s head. If Primark can do it so can luxury brands. I’m looking at you Benefit, MAC, Nars et al.

This week’s nails.

You can find a comprehensive list of cruelty free brands here.